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Old 04-07-2012, 10:12 AM   #1
mgudites
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My solution for getting TiVo content onto a Mac (iTunes)

I have devised this solution for automating the transfer and conversion of TiVo recordings to my Mac, running iTunes, and I wanted to share it in case it could be useful to anyone.

Let's just get this out of the way so hopefully I don't get a bunch of flack:
1. Yes, I realize there are solutions out there such as "kmttg." I tried kmttg and after weeks of putzing around with it and trying to get it to cooperate, I gave up. It simply doesn't work for me. If it works for you, seriously, that's great -- it'll save you from the headache I went through getting this to work. Also, I'm guessing it's possible a solution like this has been posted before, so if it has, sorry...just hoping I can help someone out.

2. Yes, I realize this solution involves money: purchasing Parallels and a license of Windows if you don't have these already, and TiVo Desktop Plus for Windows.

3. Finally, yes, I realize that in a way, doing this contradicts the ease of use that is associated with having a Mac. This solution is a bit convoluted. I had no desire to be using Windows for anything, but it's becoming more and more apparent that the people at TiVo are never going to acknowledge the Mac community by creating a true Mac equivalent of TiVo Desktop. I got tired of waiting. Roxio Toast is not a solution, and at least the solution below doesn't require a separate box just for Windows.

That being said…



My Solution:

The Windows side (steps a through c):
a. I installed a copy of Parallels and Windows on my Mac Mini. FWIW, I'm using Parallels 6 and Windows 7 Professional. Then, i installed the latest copy of TiVo Desktop Plus. This all runs 24x7 on my computer. I only dedicated 1GB of RAM to Windows. I've got 8GB in my Mac Mini, so I don't really notice Windows is running. I have my system setup so when the Mini boots up, it loads up the Windows 7 environment as well, and performs an auto-logon (TiVo is the only reason Windows is running, so I don't care if it auto logs on). Windows automatically runs TiVo Desktop/Server upon boot up as well.
Note: Once you are done working through this solution, you should not need to interface with Windows on a regular basis. Just minimize it and pretend it's not even there.

b. In my case, I am transferring my shows to iTunes so I can watch them on the computer, as well as my iPad. I configured the preferences in TiVo Desktop so it's converting for use with iPad, and deleting original transferred files after conversion (more on issues with this option later). See screenshots 1 and 2 for detail. I have setup regular auto-transfers in TiVo Desktop, so the shows I want automatically get transferred to the computer as TiVo finishes recording them.

c. At this point, we are assuming that TiVo Desktop is successfully transferring shows from your TiVo(s), and is converting them into whichever iTunes compatible format you selected.

There are three files that I keep on the Windows desktop of the computer (though you can technically put them wherever) -- "CopyTiVoFiles.vbs," "RemoveOldTiVoFiles.vbs," and "TiVoTransfer.bat." (See Screenshot 3). These three files can be found in the .zip file I attached to this thread, TiVoAutomationWindowsFiles.zip. The .bat file calls the .vbs files. You will need to tweak the .vbs files accordingly. Specifically:
  • CopyTiVoFiles.vbs: This is the script that copies the converted files to the Mac side, and deletes files it has already transferred. What it does is it copies anything new to the "TiVo Transfers" folder on the Mac side, and anything 1 day or older, it deletes. There are two lines in this script that reference folders, one which is one the Mac side and one which is on the Windows side. You'll need to tweak these two lines accordingly.

    Note: the folder I'm copying to on the Mac side is a separate folder I created, called "TiVo Transfers." I'm *NOT* copying directly into the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder. I found that if I set it up like that, iTunes would try to grab the file before the transfer from Windows finished, and it would end up in the "Not Added" folder, assumably because it thought the file was corrupt. The converted files need to be moved to the Mac side first, and then moved to the "Automatic…" folder (more on that later). Additionally, note that when I move files to the Mac side, I'm telling Windows how to get to it via network convention (UNC) format (\\whatever\whatever) rather than a drive letter. Even though Parallels does map all the drives on the Mac side, it doesn't consistently give them the same letter when booting up. Using the network convention assures that as long as the name of the drive doesn't change on the Mac side, it should always be able to find it.

  • RemoveOldTiVoFiles.vbs: This script *shouldn't* be necessary. Unfortunately I'm finding it is because the "delete original transferred files after conversion" option is not working for me (TiVo Desktop never deletes the old .TiVo files). So, this script automates the deletion. I have this set to only delete items that are 3 days or older, just in case a night gets skipped. Tweak this number to whatever you're comfortable with. (iDaysOld = 3) Additionally, you may need to tweak the path of where these files are located. If you took the defaults when you installed Desktop, it should match mine.

  • TiVoTransfer.bat: I have setup Windows Task Scheduler to run this file once a day, at 4AM. I picked 4AM because by then, anything I've recorded the past day should be transferred and converted to Windows, and ready to move to the Mac side. Again, tweak paths in this file as needed.

The Mac side (step d):
d. At this point, the converted .m4v files are sitting in the "TiVo Transfer" folder on the Mac. Now, all you have to do is automate the moving of these files to the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder. iTunes monitors this folder and will automatically import anything added it.

I have an Applescript that runs once a night at 4:05AM called "MoveTiVoToiTunes" (it is in the attached file, "TiVoAutomationMacFiles.zip"). This script is what moves the converted files from the "TiVo Transfers" folder into the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder. I have it scheduled as a Cron job. If you are comfortable scheduling your own Cron job, go for it, otherwise download Cronnix (free) which will do it for you. See screenshots 4 and 5 for details on what the script is actually doing, plus what the Cronnix setup looks like. Screenshot 6 just shows you the two folders, the one Windows moved the files to, and the one Mac OS is moving those files from.

At this point, test, test, test. It should be fully automated. In theory, the only thing you should really have to go into Windows for at this point is to add/remove any auto-transfer shows. Hopefully this all makes sense, and I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have.


Screenshots for reference:
Screenshot 1:


Screenshot 2:


Screenshot 3:


Screenshot 4:


Screenshot 5:


Screenshot 6:

Attached Files
File Type: zip TiVoAutomationMacFiles.zip (23.8 KB, 1 views)
File Type: zip TiVoAutomationWindowsFiles.zip (1.2 KB, 6 views)

Last edited by mgudites : 04-07-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:41 AM   #2
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Smh.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:07 PM   #3
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Could have tried itivo. It's bone simple to get off the ground.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:06 PM   #4
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Could have tried itivo. It's bone simple to get off the ground.
I have. Tried several times on two different boxes. It was flaky and inconsistent at best.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
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The main problem I have had converting videos for the iPad (not just TiVo recordings) is out of sync audio.

Frankly after try all the tools available - I have given up.

I am waiting for the transcoding device!
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:07 AM   #6
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The main problem I have had converting videos for the iPad (not just TiVo recordings) is out of sync audio.

Frankly after try all the tools available - I have given up.

I am waiting for the transcoding device!
I was having the same problem with the other solutions. This solution does work, albeit it's complicated.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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Smh.
Smh?
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:12 AM   #8
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Shaking My Head.

(I had to look it up)
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:40 AM   #9
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Shaking My Head.
Oh. Yeah, I had the same response.
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:32 AM   #10
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Oh. Yeah, I had the same response.
Because??
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:25 AM   #11
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Wow- quite the writeup and process. If it works for you and helps some others, great. Personally, I don't use a mac, but this seems like a process of continual juggling, where one failed step could cause it to unravel. But what do I know? I could be completely mistaken.

Just an FYI- this board is excellent at providing support for pytivo installation problems. I have been helped numerous times, and if you ever want to go back there, these people can help.
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:22 PM   #12
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Because??
See jrtoo's response. It's a bit of a Rube Goldberg approach.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:12 AM   #13
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See jrtoo's response. It's a bit of a Rube Goldberg approach.
Like I said, desperate times call for desperate measures. Nothing else worked for me.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:12 PM   #14
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What no one's process addresses is copy protection. 90% of the shows on my TiVo are copy protected, and locked up.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:07 PM   #15
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No one's process is capable of addressing that. It's enforced on the TiVo side.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:09 PM   #16
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No one's process is capable of addressing that. It's enforced on the TiVo side.
Yeah, I know. I just feel better to complain about it every once in a while.

I know there's a hardware hack which will defeat it, but it's not that important to me.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:48 PM   #17
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Eh why bother?
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:26 PM   #18
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On my MAC the pyTivo is bulletproof putting stuff on the Tivo. The best transcoder for use on iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc., is Handbrake. If you're going to say you tried that and it didn't work for you then the problem is you not the software because Handbrake is bulletproof for this stuff on every platform.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:07 PM   #19
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I know there's a hardware hack which will defeat it, but it's not that important to me.
The hardware hack addresses a great deal more than just that.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:10 PM   #20
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On my MAC the pyTivo is bulletproof putting stuff on the Tivo. The best transcoder for use on iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc., is Handbrake. If you're going to say you tried that and it didn't work for you then the problem is you not the software because Handbrake is bulletproof for this stuff on every platform.
Rather than be condescending and assume I don't know what I'm doing, how about reading my original post. Everything I read specifies that PyTivo is meant for streaming content TO TiVo, and at best, it can go in the opposite direction but only one show at a time (no scheduling). I'm trying to get content OFF of the TiVo and onto the computer.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:13 AM   #21
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Rather than be condescending and assume I don't know what I'm doing, how about reading my original post. Everything I read specifies that PyTivo is meant for streaming content TO TiVo, and at best, it can go in the opposite direction but only one show at a time (no scheduling). I'm trying to get content OFF of the TiVo and onto the computer.
Ignore the noise from the peanut gallery. I for one am happy you posted here. I'm always happy to read about different ways of doing transfers.

And, regardless of anything else, I learned about CronniX. Yes I've used cron before, but every unix system does things a little differently, so I'm happy to see an easy way to use cron on OS X.

Now if only OS X had /etc/fstab, I'd be a happy camper. That's just a rhetorical by-the-way comment. I realize that it used to support it, and maybe still does, and I realize that OS X wants to do things differently.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:16 AM   #22
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The main problem I have had converting videos for the iPad (not just TiVo recordings) is out of sync audio.

Frankly after try all the tools available - I have given up.
Hmmm ... one of the developers of VideoReDo is claiming it doesn't have problems with out of sync audio.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:21 AM   #23
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And, regardless of anything else, I learned about CronniX. Yes I've used cron before, but every unix system does things a little differently, so I'm happy to see an easy way to use cron on OS X.
Cron on my Mac works exactly like cron does on the RHEL boxes I admin for my day job. (Vixie) Cron should be cron pretty much everywhere.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:06 AM   #24
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TiVo Desktop + TiVo Decode + Handbrake
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:45 AM   #25
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Like I said, desperate times call for desperate measures. Nothing else worked for me.
What bothers me is you don't say how it didn't work, or what you tried to get it to work.

BTW, Galleon does a fine job of TTG, including scheduling and batch processing, and it remains the only application that allows the user to select programs to transfer from the TiVo UI for any TiVo in the house. It also has a very useable client interface for the PC. I'm using mostly kmttg, myself, but I have Galleon running.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:19 AM   #26
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What bothers me is you don't say how it didn't work, or what you tried to get it to work.

BTW, Galleon does a fine job of TTG, including scheduling and batch processing, and it remains the only application that allows the user to select programs to transfer from the TiVo UI for any TiVo in the house. It also has a very useable client interface for the PC. I'm using mostly kmttg, myself, but I have Galleon running.
With kmttg, it was audio sync issues. Could not get past issues with the audio not syncing up with the video. Spent a good deal of time on forums, trying different tweaks, and just got tired of trying to make it work.

With iTivo, that app was just garbage. I could not get it to cooperate at all. It wouldn't consistently download the shows I told it to, plus things I knew were on the TiVo wouldn't show up on the iTivo menu as something I could download. It didn't appear anyone was regularly updating it, in fact as of today, the latest official release is 3 years old, so I haven't tried it again. There's some release from this year on the page, which says it fixes "something" (issue 129), but then doesn't say anything about what "issue 129" is. It seems like something that's more or less an abandoned project at this point.

I tried Galleon -- it sees my TiVos, but not any of the content on them. It just sits here at this screen, saying "Retrieving Data." Also, on their home page, it says "A TiVo Series 2 or Series 3 or HD DVR with at least version 7.2.1 software" is required. I have two Premiers.
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Last edited by mgudites : 04-15-2012 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:51 AM   #27
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remains the only application that allows the user to select programs to transfer from the TiVo UI for any TiVo in the house. It also has a very useable client interface for the PC.
I use pyTiVo, and love it, but did not know galleon did this. I must investigate.
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Old 04-15-2012, 06:04 PM   #28
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With kmttg, it was audio sync issues. Could not get past issues with the audio not syncing up with the video. Spent a good deal of time on forums, trying different tweaks, and just got tired of trying to make it work.
That's often a red flag saying you've tried to use too high a profile setting, too many reference frames, or too many b-frames. I've had this issue in the past with material I've ripped to send to my Tivo; and I've had this issue with material I've ripped for use in Quicktime.
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